This story takes place immediately following the episode The Furies.
"You must be tired. Why don't you go to bed?"
"You've been through a lot. And that fight with Ares . . . "
"I go through a lot every day Mother. I'm used to it."
Cyrene sighed and drank the last of her tea. She knew it was useless to argue with her daughter.
Their relationship, woven over the last two years, had been one of small progressions. She hoped this latest torment would not drive them apart again. The chance to be proud of her daughter, to feel like she had a daughter, was not something she wanted to lose. But even though they'd been apart for so many years there were some things she had quickly come to understand about Xena. And she knew that, though the Furies had ended the persecution, her child was still being tormented. This time, however, the tormentor was Xena herself. Cyrene looked at the strong young woman sitting across the table from her, features softened by firelight, raven hair merging into the darkness around them. Xena stared down into her cup and her mother read her thoughts.
"Xena there's something I want you to know," she said softly. Xena raised her eyes and Cyrene saw the hope and fear in them. She reached over and covered Xena's hand with her own. "I know I treated you badly when you came back here two years ago . . . and I'm sorry for that."
"Mother . . . "
"No. Let me finish. I was hurt by what you had become, by the way you were living your life. In public, with my friends, I shut away the fact that you were my daughter. I refused to acknowledge it. That was wrong of me."
"You have every right to be ashamed."
"I was never ashamed Xena." She paused to make sure Xena heard and understood the words. "Never. I was hurt and that made me angry. But when I was alone, when I didn't have to explain myself to anyone, I grieved for you, I loved you, I missed you. And even though I hated what you had become, I never stopped hoping you would find your way out of that life. And not one single time Xena did I ever regret stopping your father from killing you. Even now, knowing how your life turned out, I would do exactly the same thing again in a heart beat."
Xena's fingers closed around her mother's hand. All the way back from the temple of the Furies she had wondered if Cyrene had spent the last ten years wishing she had her husband instead of Xena, if she had regreted the choice to kill her husband to save her daughter. She had reassured her mother that everything would be all right, that they would get through this. But still, she had wondered.
"Now why don't you try to get some rest."
"Mother . . ."
"All right, all right. You're so stubborn."
Neither of them had gotten much sleep the night before and the journey back from the temple of the Furies had been threatened with awkward silences that neither would have known how to fill. Gabrielle, understanding their uneasiness, had told them about her trip to find Orestes and filled in the more uncomfortable moments with bringing Cyrene up to date on their latest adventures.
Cyrene smiled as she remembered how Gabrielle talked about Xena's exploits. She had noticed how the younger woman had been able to ease the tension from Xena and had even coaxed some smiles from her. ‘Well,' she thought, ‘if I can't get this girl to go to bed maybe I can follow Gabrielle's example and at least cheer her up a bit.'
"So, my daughter," she said with a chuckle, "there's lots of work that needs to be done around the old tavern. What's it worth to you for me not to tell Gabrielle that you called her a piss-ant?"
"Mother don't you dare!"
Cyrene laughed in earnest. "I won't. I promise. Xena I would never do anything to cause trouble between you and Gabrielle - even in jest."
Xena relaxed back into her chair. She was sure Gabrielle would understand that it was said in the throes of insanity but still . . . she knew she would have to pay for that remark to Ares about the only way to shut her up.
She glanced up to find her mother smiling and chuckled herself. "Mother, believe me, you have no idea how much trouble that would cause."
"I'm so glad she a part of your life Xena. She's a good person, and it's easy to see how much you mean to her."
Xena nodded but said nothing, lowering her eyes to once again gaze into her cup.
"I worry less about you," Cyrene continued, "knowing she's there. She intelligent, kind, fiercely loyal to you . . ."
"Xena?" The warrior turned to see a very sleepy Gabrielle descending the stairs. "I woke up and you weren't there and I . . . oh, hi Cyrene. Didn't know you two were talking. Didn't mean to disturb you." Gabrielle had reached the table where the two women sat but turned to leave again.
"You're not disturbing us Gabrielle. I've been trying - unsuccessfully - to get my daughter to go to bed and get some rest."
Gabrielle looke at Cyrene for a long moment before replying. "Well, I used to do that too but she wouldn't listen to me either so I finally gave up." She yawned again and turned to leave. "You know, Xena," she said over her shoulder as she headed for the stairs, "you're mother's right about getting some rest. After all you're own your own these days. No minions around to do your fighting for you if you're too tired like when you were a warlord."
Xena's jaw dropped open and she quickly stood to follow Gabrielle. "Wait a moment. You think I made my men do my fighting for me?!"
"Well, if you were tired it
would make sense . . ." Gabrielle continued as she headed up the stairs.
"Gabrielle I would never
ask my men to fight my fights just because I was tired!" Xena caught up
with the bard and dogged her steps trying to make her point.
"Gabrielle I would never ask my men to fight my fights just because I was tired!" Xena caught up with the bard and dogged her steps trying to make her point.
"Ok, what ever you
"What ever I say?! What
ever I say?! Are you patronizing me Gabrielle? Because if you are, I really
don't think . . ."
"What ever I say?! What ever I say?! Are you patronizing me Gabrielle? Because if you are, I really don't think . . ."
Cyrene smiled as the door to the bedroom closed, cutting off her daughter's somewhat plaintive voice. ". . . and she's clever too."